I’m not sure I know anyone who claims to have enough space in their home; people who live in big houses seem to have cramped closets and over-stuffed rooms just like those of us in smaller town homes and condos. The key to living large is to maximize your home with smart decorating and furnishing ideas. Here are four of my decorating rules and some great products that will help you survive any small space.

Rule 1: Every piece of furniture must perform two duties!
A slim console table can be a server/bar, dressing table or hold a flat screen television; a long storage ottoman can act as a footstool, a coffee table or an extra perch for unexpected guests; a comfy upholstered dining chair can be an extra seat in the living room and size appropriate to sit in the corner of a bedroom.

Rule 2: Use similar colours and tones used throughout!
Be strong and commit to either all light, medium or dark tones when choosing things like flooring, walls and furnishings in your space. Using similar tones will allow the eye to roam freely, making a space feel larger. Using too many light and dark options will instantly chop the space and make it feel smaller.

Rule 3: Create big impact in each room!
A tall headboard in the bedroom, a set of floor-to-ceiling drapes in a dining area, a decorative fireplace mantel in the living room are all items that will help create big impact while taking up minimal floor space.

Rule 4: Get the right size dining table!
You need a minimum of three feet of clearance on each side of the table, a round table is more flexible for seating, a pedestal based table makes it even more flexible, and a leaf extension is allows the in-laws to visit.

My favorite piece of furniture: The Hydraulic Storage Bed offers enough storage underneath to replace six large dresser drawers (around $2200 for queen size, sunpanimports.com). Its easy to manoeuvre with just one hand and there’s no need to purchase a dresser and you won’t need a box spring!

Best design for the money: Ikea’s Pendel clock tower is the modern and affordable grandfather clock. It not only ensures you will never be late for work but also offers up stylish slim storage in the foyer, bathroom or hallway. $179, www.ikea.ca

Smartest thing to get: The Pilsen desk; made of glass and metal is the perfect size to work, dine, or use as a console. Around $249 from Crate and Barrell, www.crateandbarrel.com

And for your designer tip of the day: To make a small space look as large as possible, paint the walls two shades lighter than your flooring.

– Karl Lohnes is passionate about good decor and wants to help you have a beautiful home; no matter what your budget or style. Catch him on CTV’s Canada AM

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